Explore a Hidden Marin Waterfall

San Francisco Carson Falls

Added by Marcello Pantuliano

  • The bad news, this waterfall is hard to find.
  • The good news, we’ll help you get there.
  • This waterfall is best in the winter. Wait until after a recent rain to see the full power of the falls.
  • This is a 3-mile out-and-back hike with an elevation gain of ~1,000 ft.

Are you tired of crowds on your hikes? First, shame on you for getting up so late and moving so slowly. Did you really need Philz before you got on the trail?

Ok, now that you’ve been thoroughly chastised, let’s start planning a hike to the less-frequented Carson Falls. Like any of the falls in Marin, they’re obviously gushing after a big storm, but you can enjoy them most of the year anyway.

Getting there: From the 101, exit Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Take SFD to Pacheco Ave, make a left on Pacheco, a quick right onto Broadway and then a quick left onto Bolinas Rd. Stay on Bolinas for 3.8 miles. You’ll pass the Meadow Club on your left side. 1.3 miles past the Meadow Club, you’ll see a parking area on your left – park here.

Once you’re parked, carefully cross the road and head toward the gate. This is where the hike starts. Head up Pine Mountain Fire Road for ~1-mile until you reach Oat Hill Road. Head left onto Oat Hill Road for ~0.2 miles until you see a trail heading off to your right. This is Carson Falls Trail. You can take this directly to the falls.

If you reach the falls and need a little more mileage, this 3-mile hike can be turned into a 7-mile hike by continuing on Carson Falls Trail down to Kent Pump Road. This road will intersect with Old Vee Road. Head east on Old Vee until it meets up with Oat Hill. At Oat hill, hang a left, and head north until meeting back up with Pine Mountain Road. Head east on Pine Mountain, and you’ll shortly reach your car.

If you need to quench the thirst you've built up from the hike, head to Iron Springs Pub & Brewery on the way back to the freeway. If you're like us and prefer something a little south of the border, you may want to grab a burrito from Taqueria Mi Pueblo.

Pack List

  • Trail shoes or Hiking boots. If it's been raining, the terrain could be muddy and slippery
  • Water
  • Camera (come on, there are waterfalls!)
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

3 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1000 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Dog Friendly
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

10 months ago

Great day hike

Best to follow the written directions - don't use the GPS map! Went halfway to Stinson Beach before turning around, but once we got there it was a really nice hike. Lots of very steep uphill and downhill, so if you have bad knees you may want to avoid this one. The falls are really pretty, and keep getting prettier as you descend into the woods. The additional loop is worth while if you have time, as the way back up is actually less steep than if you just turned around. Make sure to turn LEFT on Kent Pump raod!

10 months ago

over 2 years ago

The trial for this hike starts off uphill with a little gravel, but isn't too tough. The trail gets much easier as you begin to flatten out and then head down to the waterfall. Be sure to go after a recent rain to see the waterfall at its best.

over 2 years ago

More Adventures Nearby

Hike Montgomery Woods State Nature Reserve Loop

San Francisco / Montgomery Woods SNR

This is a great find. We saw it on the map it was on the way from Mendocino to our next stop, Napa Valley. So glad we took the time to visit.

John Maurizi
2 Saves

Marin Headlands Trail Loop

San Francisco / Marin Headlands Trail via Coastal Trail

This trail starts at the Coastal Trail in Marin Headlands Park, where there's a small parking lot and outhouse bathroom off the circle when coming from Conzelman Road.

Jaime B
1 Saves

Bouldering at Ring Mountain

San Francisco / Ring Mountain

Itching to climb outdoors near San Francisco?  With only a quick drive from the city, Ring Mountain is a beautiful nature preserve overlooking the city of San Francisco offering two main rock for.

Chanel Varasteh
9 Saves